Rishi Sunak is not the first Tory chancellor to claim he has a “sacred responsibility to balance the books for future generations”, while doing nothing to ease graduates’ debts, improve young people’s chances in the housing market, increase social mobility, close pay ratios, or increasing spending on all aspects of state education (Rishi Sunak: hard choices ahead to tackle debt from Covid crisis, 5 October).
Future generations would benefit far more if the need for food banks was eradicated and there were guarantees of jobs and decent pay.
The International Monetary Fund’s advice to increase state spending (Editorial, 5 October) is likely to be ignored, just as it was in 2013. Then, just two months before his March budget, George Osborne was told by the IMF of the need for a “reassessment of fiscal policy”. Work by the IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, on fiscal multipliers had shown the devastating effects tax and spending cuts were having on economies. Naturally, Osborne ignored the advice and went on to continue with spending cuts, reducing corporation tax to 20% and capping public sector pay awards to 1%.
When it comes to a choice for the Tories between a Roosevelt-like New Deal, as Larry Elliott suggested, to rescue jobs and businesses (Without clarity and leadership, there’s plenty to fear for the UK economy, 1 October) and austerity measures, it’s already clear where Sunak’s rhetoric will take us.
• Your editorial (5 October) rightly identifies Rishi Sunak’s speech as being about politics, not economics. It is also right to bemoan the lack of an assertive riposte from the Labour party.
Labour has four years to refute relentlessly the myths on which the government’s economic policy hangs, to develop a credible alternative vision and to build support for it. This must discard artificially created scarcity and ensure that all have access to meaningful, well-paid work and high-quality public services, while reducing our material footprint to one that minimises harm to future generations. This is achievable if the will is there, but it won’t be delivered by any party whose meek ambitions reach no further than wishing to appear a less inept version of the current lot.
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